This recipe for Fried Aubergine with Soy and Honey is quick, easy and is a great way to convert any aubergine haters. Aubergines naturally absorb flavours when cooked and are a great base for strong flavours, such as the umami taste of soy and the heat of chilli. In this recipe, honey adds a touch of sweetness to balance the saltiness and heat of the other ingredients. It is really important to ensure that aubergine is well cooked so that it becomes soft – no one likes a chewy aubergine!
I serve this Fried Aubergine hot as a side dish with curries and stir-fries. However, it is also great at room temperature as a salad. I will often take it to work with me as part of my eat-at-the-desk lunch – together with some cold rice or noodles and find the combination of flavours frankly addictive! It is also good as part of a cold buffet.
There are a number of similar recipes for Fried Aubergine including one from BBC Ready Steady Cook and another from the fantastic Amuse Your Bouche blog. Mine uses less honey in proportion to the aubergine as I just want a hint of sweetness and is heavier on the chilli as I like a lot of heat!
This Honey Cream Tea, made with Lavender Scones, is a variation on the traditional English Cream Tea which uses plain or fruited scones sandwiched with jam and cream.
I first tasted a Honey Cream Tea many years ago when visiting Quince Honey Farm in Devon. Understandably, given the primary product of the farm, they served scones sandwiched with cream and honey, rather than the traditional jam. When I decided to write a recipe for Lavender Scones, it occurred to me that a honey and cream filling would go very well with their floral flavour – and so it proved! If you have lavender-scented honey, so much the better.
This Honey Cream Tea is made with lavender-flavoured scones sandwiched together with honey and whipped cream. It is a variation on a traditional English Cream Tea, which combines plain or fruited scones with jam and cream.
350 g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
85 g butter
25 g caster sugar
4 fresh lavender buds (or 2 tablespoons of culinary lavender)
100 ml milk
A small pot of good quality (ideally locally-sourced) honey
300 ml double cream (whipped)
Set your oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas Mark 6.
Put the flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar to the flour and butter mixture.
Detach the small flowers from the lavender stalks and add them to the mixture.
Lightly beat the eggs and add them and the milk to the mixture.
Use your hands to very gently combine the mixture so that it forms a soft dough.
Press the dough out onto a floured surface. It needs to be about 1cm thick. Use a round cutter to cut out dough shapes and place them on a greased baking sheet.
Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the scones have risen and are a light golden colour.
Transfer the scones to a cooling rack.
When they are cool, split them in half and sandwich together with honey and whipped cream.
Lilac and Vanilla Victoria Sandwich Cake with Lilac Honey and Mascarpone Frosting
This Lilac and Vanilla Victoria Sandwich Cake is early summer on a plate! It tastes wonderful – creamy, buttery and floral – and looks beautiful with its decoration of edible flowers. I made my Lilac Cake for a special family tea, which thanks to recent surprisingly sunny weather, we were actually able to eat in the garden, close to the tree that had provided the blossoms.
This is a simple Victoria Sandwich cake, which is flavoured with lilac through the use of Lilac Sugar in the cake mix and Lilac Honey in the frosting. It is really easy to make both the flavoured Sugar and Honey but you need to do this around a week before you plan to make your Lilac Cakee to allow the lilac flavour to be absorbed. If you don’t have the time, inclination or opportunity to do this, you can make the cake without the lilac flavour – just use ordinary sugar in the cake mix and ordinary honey in the frosting. The cake will still be delicious but, personally, I think it is worth going down the lilac route as the taste is unusual and results in a beautiful floral cake (to taste and to look at!) which captures the spirit of an early English summer.
Set your oven to 180 degrees centigrade or Gas Mark 4.
Cream the butter with the sugar. (I usually soften the butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave first as it makes it much easier!)
Gradually add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture. If it looks as if it is going to curdle, add some of the self-raising flour.
Once the eggs have been incorporated add the rest of the self-raising flour.
Add the milk and the vanilla extract. It really makes a difference if you use a good quality vanilla extract – as opposed to vanilla essence – as this will give it a much more intense flavour.
Grease your Victoria Sandwich tins or containers and then add the cake mixture.
Bake your cakes in the oven for around 35 minutes. They are done when they are golden brown, springy to the touch and have shrunk away from the edge of the tin. You can test this by inserting a skewer in the middle of the cake – if it comes out cleanly with no mixture attached, your cake is done.
Allow your cakes to cool on a rack before removing them from the tins or containers.
Beat the mascarpone and honey together in a food processor or using a hand blender until the mixture has thickened slightly.
Use a third of the frosting to sandwich together your two cakes.
Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the assembled Lilac Cake.
Take the small lilac flowers off the flower heads and wash them in cold water. Allow to dry off on kitchen towel and then use them to decorate the top of the cake. You need to complete this part of the decoration just before you are ready to serve the cake to ensure that the flowers look fresh and lovely!
In the (unlikely) event that there is any Lilac Cake left over, this needs to be stored in the fridge due to the mascarpone icing. It will keep for a couple of days but, like all sponge cakes, it tastes better when it is freshly made.
Make sure that the lilac you use has not been treated with chemicals. The best place to get it is from your garden or that of a friend or neighbour. Shop-bought lilac is not suitable for this recipe.